2 min read

Is Listening to Podcasts Bad?

Is Listening to Podcasts Bad?
Photo by Aaron Burden / Unsplash

Am I optimising my time or distracting my mind?

Yesterday, I decided to stop watching videos on a workout bike. Today, without thinking about it, I listened to a podcast while training with some weights. Now, back on the bike, I am conflicted about this.

To reach my goals, I decided to stop consuming content, mainly thinking about watching videos and playing games. But what about the podcasts I like to listen to? Do they have the same negative influence on my progress?

On the one hand, I am not wasting any time listening to a podcast because it is an additional activity while working out, driving, or cleaning dishes. I am optimising my time.

On the other hand, the podcast is an additional source of information distracting me from the present moment. My mind gets used to the constant entertainment and has to pay attention to the thoughts of faraway people on topics that don’t matter (to me). To counter this, I’d had to sit down and solely focus on the podcast - which would mean spending time on consuming.

If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realising the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future—and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.

-Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness

(And it is the same with a podcast that keeps me away from the present moment of my life.)

My breakup with technology is a radical step in which I try to limit my intake of dopamine and distractions to increase my focus on my life and my goals. It is hard - but the podcast is gone (at least for a while) as well.

(What about audiobooks?)

While holding more valuable information, the same principle applies. Though, if I consciously choose to listen to something (e.g. on a 10-hour drive), audiobooks will be my choice.

Today is the second day I decided to write instead of watching videos while working out, which led to two articles.